What is Pneumatiphobia?

Pneumatiphobia is the fear of spirits. Spirits are based on something that may not be understood and that sense of the unknown is the primary factor of fear in Pneumatiphobia.

This phobia is also known as Pneumatophobia and related to Spectrophobia (fear of specters or ghosts), Phasmophobia (fear of ghosts), Demonophobia and Daemonophobia (which both mean fear of demons), Bogyphobia (fear of the bogeyman), Satanophobia (fear of satan, satanic control or devils), Hadephobia, Stygiophobia, and Stigiophobia (which all mean fear of Hell), and Wiccaphobia (fear of witches or witchcraft).

The root word 'pneumat' is Greek meaning 'spirit' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Pneumatiphobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Pneumatiphobia

Pneumatiphobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well-understood, are driven by social anxiety, and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Pneumatiphobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

In many cases, the fear of spirits may rest in family stories about a house that is haunted by spirits. The stories may run from something as benign as a chair that rocks on its own to something more nefarious.

One can develop this phobia as a result of seeing the fear lived out in the lives of someone who convincingly shares tales of their experience and unintentionally invites others to join in their phobia.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Pneumatiphobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›

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